Trump advisor and ex-CIA chief aims to temper the president-elect's tough nuclear talk

Trump's 'right' on nuclear plan: James Woolsey

Donald Trump does not want to expand the nuclear arsenal of the United States, but instead advocates bringing the nation's nuclear capabilities into the modern day, James Woolsey, an advisor to the president-elect on national security, told CNBC on Friday.

Woolsey, an ex-director of Central Intelligence and a former nuclear arms treaty negotiator, said in a "Squawk Box" interview, "I think he's right because we have been degrading our nuclear capability over the last eight years." He added he does not think there's any commitment on the part of Trump to increased numbers of nuclear weapons.

But Trump's comments Friday morning seem to contradict, or at least, call into question that assertion. In an MSNBC interview, the president-elect said, "Let it be an arms race, because we will outmatch them at every pass and outlast them all."

On Thursday Trump tweeted about "greatly" strengthening and expanding America's nuclear capabilities, just hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a speech, called for a modernization of Moscow's nuclear program.

Read Trump's tweet.

Putin's saber rattling over nukes — not to mention incursions in Ukraine and an aggressive approach to the Syrian civil war — should be putting Trump on alert, Woolsey said.

"The Obama administration has done virtually nothing to modernize [nukes], and there's a lot of modernization that needs to be done," he contended. "You got to make sure your forces can't be taken out with a first strike. That takes money. That takes effort."